55

Possible layoffs in Oakland schools

This letter from Superintendent Tony Smith was posted today on the district’s website. The news — that the district plans to issue more notices of possible layoff than it has in years — was buried beneath paragraphs of grim context, but you can tell where it’s going:

The most significant measure concerns advance notification of potential certificated layoffs. These notices, commonly referred to as March 15 notices, do not indicate that the recipient will be laid-off, only that such a possibility exists. This year, because of the tremendous uncertainty and the possibility of deep cuts, we plan to issue a significant number of notices to both certificated and classified staff. This is hard news at a time when schools and districts are already struggling to cope with reduced budgets. California’s budget crisis has forced us to make tough choices; tradeoffs that were unthinkable just a few years ago. It has also created an atmosphere of uncertainty as we wait anxiously for critical information and prepare for a number of alternative scenarios. Through all this, we will do our best to mitigate the impact on children.

The other big news, which is not mentioned in the letter, is that all principals and other “certificated” managers will receive a notice on March 15 that they might be reassigned to another position, and not necessarily in management.

I don’t have the numbers of potential layoff notices; district spokesman Troy Flint said it hasn’t been determined. Flint said notices will not go to all teachers, but that there could be hundreds.

BACKGROUND: State law requires districts to notify certain employees of the possibility of a layoff by March 15. (Final layoff notices are issued by May 15.) It’s been years since the Oakland school district issued a slew of these notices to tenured K-12 teachers — at least, it hasn’t happened in the four years I’ve been covering OUSD.

The district posted a detailed explanation of the kinds of March 15 notices that go out. As I’ve reported, temporary and untenured teachers have received release notices in recent years, as have adult education teachers. (Note: New teachers without tenure can be let go for any reason; it’s often unrelated to the budget.)

Clerks, custodians and other “classified” staff go through a different layoff/bumping process, which I wrote about last year.

What have you heard? Do you agree with the district’s decision to tell all principals they might be reassigned to other positions next year?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • livegreen

    If a principal at a school is reassigned, what does that school do? Operate without a principal, or with an interim principal? (If that gives them a lower cost). Or can this be considered a sign that a school will soon shut it’s doors?

  • Oakland Teacher

    Why are we talking about horrific cuts, yet keeping open tiny schools? I heard that closing small schools is not on the table for next year. That would save huge amounts of money. How can we possibly stay solvent and serve kids when the costs of keeping open the ultra-small schools is so high?

  • concerned parent

    To anyone at the district level that is reading this- please don’t do to the school principals what happens with the school secretaries every year- musical chairs. It takes a good 6 months or more to get a secretary settled and really up to speed and productive at a school, and then around March 15th they find out they have been bumped or reassigned, so they become apathetic for the rest of the school year. I have seen this now for the three years we have been at an OUSD school- a new secretary every year, often one that didn’t want to leave her old spot. As a parent, I can only hope that a lot of careful thought and evalation will go into the decision-making process when pink-slipping our principals, especially the ones that dedicate their days, nights, and weekends to improving our school and school community. AND…that the district won’t yank principals from schools that aren’t broken, or from schools that need that leadership to keep improving, or to work through difficult times after surviving a change in leadership or are about to embark on any large project, such as construction. Please, as a district, I implore you as a parent not to cut off the nose to spite the face- especially at the school-site level!

  • J.R.
  • J.R.

    Concerned Parent,

    Wouldn’t it be great if the best admins staff and teachers were kept, it’s just too bad that the logical common sense approach isn’t used.

  • Defcon Two

    @JR, nice find from May 2010 about too many schools. Those stats are important.

    This is going to be a big market correction. Except, because of seniority, the correction won’t get rid of the deadweight like most corrections do. That’s the upside in a correction – the weak get culled. It’s the beauty of evolution and the kind of systems that are able to remake themselves as they adapt to different challenges in a given context.

    I won’t argue that capitalism isn’t corrupting democracy in the US – it is – but with this budget correction that OUSD faces, we’re going to get rid of so many strong, developing and committed teachers so senior and frequently deadweight teachers can stay.

    This is backwards. This is wrong. This is bad.

    “Tony, can we turn OUSD into a charter district?” asked a principal at this morning’s emergency principal meeting.

    Can we?

  • Teacher

    We had training at our last staff meeting on PTSD and its effects on students. We learned that 1/3 of urban students are affected by PTSD or complex trauma and that they suffer far more deeply than other teens from change of routine. What will all these staffing changes and consolidations do to our most vulnerable students, who typically attend the schools with declining enrollment in disproportionate numbers — the very schools that will be put through the most changes next year. Thriving students? I am not sure too many of them will be at our school next year. They will just be trying to survive more trauma and disruption.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Just as bad as the idea of musical principals, I heard that teachers are going to have bumping rights based on seniority, meaning that teachers could be shifting around like we have seen lately with classified staff. The difference is that it could be partially by teacher choice (at least by the incoming), but not the outgoing. It sounds like a logistical nightmare.

    About 10 years ago, OUSD decided to move around principals, shifting highly successful principals to less successful schools. Principals did not have much choice in the matter; it was pretty sad.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Can anyone explain why OUSD is advertising for teachers online? To add insult to injury, they are looking for uncredentialed college graduates to sign up. This was posted on Craig’s List yesterday, the same day that massive layoffs were forecast in Oakland schools. How about using teachers who are laid off/consolidated instead?

    Teachers Needed! Oakland Teaching Fellows (Oakland, CA)
    Date: 2011-02-15, 5:45PM PST
    Reply to: job-rjzt7-2216789637@craigslist.org

  • Harold

    @9 Good find. We all know the district, unfortunately, cannot be trusted. No contract. Lowest Teacher pay in the county. Now, with the help of Gov. Moonbeam, they are going for the jugular.

    Would anyone be surprised if there were an attempt to purge, key members of OEA’s leadership?

  • Future Doctor

    Oakland Teaching Fellows (OTF) is attempting to fill high-needs areas like special education, where there will also probably be a dumping of teachers this year as well. At a February 2011 meeting, special ed teachers were in so many words told that they would not have jobs if they did not fulfill the new autism authorization requirements by July of 2011. Where can you get this you ask? The authorization is all over the place for 6-9 graduate credit hours which are difficult to get into when informed in February (one month into this semesters classes). However, here is the trick… This authorization is embedded in another program close to the heart of OUSD, the Oakland Teaching Fellows (OTF) program and its nepotistic collaboration with the Oakland Practitioner Teacher Program (OPTP). OTF ‘gently encourages’ participants (forces one to opt out of going to a regular university) into the Oakland Practitioner Teacher Program (OPTP) where you can get a credential for a few thousand dollars by going to a few classes (sometimes) presented by teachers with less than a few years experience themselves. Embedded within this OPTP credential is (drum roll please) the autism authorization. And ladies and gentlemen, this is why OTF is posting job openings on Craigslist.org once again.

  • Katy Murphy

    Yes, if the district ends up laying off tenured, k-12 teachers this year (a decision it must make by May 15), it will be based on seniority and credential. I believe that’s part of the collective bargaining agreement.

    Teachers: Have you experienced these kinds of layoffs in OUSD or elsewhere?

  • J.R.

    Defcon,
    Some schools in another district where I help with the IT, trimmed janitors(kept the most senior). Not even four months after that this guy comes up injured, is now retired on permanent disability(and pays 50% of normal in taxes)that’s nice work if you can get it. We are forced to keep the most senior, and it hurts us(the taxpayers(should be based on competence alone). The taxpayers have been getting the middle finger for too long, and it’s time for some justice. Have a look at this I’m sure you will enjoy it:

    http://intelligencesquaredus.org/index.php/past-debates/dont-blame-teachers-unions-for-our-failing-schools/

  • livegreen

    I’m still confused about how OUSD replaces a principal? Do they operate schools without them or close the school? Or if there’s an in between, what is it?

  • Katy Murphy

    I know, it is confusing. I talked to one principal who said he didn’t know what to make of it, or how afraid he should be.

    It sounds to me like the administration isn’t ready to make any staffing decisions now, so they’re leaving their options open. I’ll see what more I can find out.

  • oaklandteacher

    Future Doctor,

    I went through OPTP to get my preliminary credential and am now at Alliant to get my clear credential. Please get your facts straight regarding OPTP. I attended every week from 5-9 from the time school started until graduation. Both of the teachers who taught the classes had been teaching in the district longer than 6 years and one is currently an assistant principal. Yes, it did have the Autism embedded but don’t discount the rigor of OPTP.

  • TeachForFreedom

    @9, clarification about OTF:

    Every year, current teachers that have been laid off go through a re-placement process at their same or different school in the late spring. Oakland Teaching Fellows (and also new Teach For America teachers) *generally* do not get placed into schools until late summer, or sometimes not even until early fall after positions are vacated. The reason why these new teachers are being “hired” now (it’s not official until they get a position) is so they can be trained over the summer, and will eventually fill the natural attrition. The new OTF/TFA eventually end up filling positions that would otherwise go to long term subs.

    Long story short, current teachers that receive layoff notices get the first pick. The new hires get the last.

    That said, this 2005 report by The New Teacher Project explains the consequences of “last in, first out” layoff practices common in teacher’s unions, including the OEA. http://tntp.org/files/TNTPPressRelease.pdf

    The main point is that when districts are bound by a union contract that forces them to issue budgetary layoffs based on ONLY the teacher’s hire date, it wastes money, demoralizes the profession of teaching, and (sometimes) allows poor-performing teachers to continue negatively affecting student outcomes year after year.

    A common criticism is that if principals could select layoffs based on factors other than hire date, that they would automatically lay off the most expensive tenured teachers. However, principals recognize the value of good and great teachers, no matter what step they are at on the salary scale. No principal will lay off a tenured teacher that is truly contributing to the staff team and student achievement because that teacher’s experience is worth their weight in gold.

  • J.R.

    Teach for freedom,
    Smart principals(if given the choice)would want to keep their best teachers irregardless of time served, their performance is measured by performance of the school(their head is on the chopping block). Principals jobs are much more vulnerable than are teachers. The facts are evident in the numbers, principal turnover is huge(while teachers fired for incompetence are rare or nonexistent).Teachers do voluntarily flee the bad schools though, but that isn’t the same thing.

  • Catherine

    I have friends and colleagues at schools with a historically 50% turnover (Title 1 elementary schools that have already been reconstituted and still have historically low test scores but are making improvements). Some of these are intern teachers that may or may not be fully credentialed by June. I believe many of them will be in this round of layoffs.

    What frightens me about this prospect is that they will place seasoned teachers with tenure in the schools for a year, maybe two, until these teachers can get a place in a “better school” while nearly all of the interns have committed to sticking with the school and the students for a minimum of five years. Signed commitment letters. In addition, these interns pay for professional development, supplies and bring in former business colleagues for sessions on science, drama, writing business letters, savings and checking accounts and the building trades. These adults are wiling to mentor the students on their own time as well. The teachers pay for finger printing of volunteers (about $85 OUSD-LiveScan fees) as well.

    Yet, through our current system these teachers will most likely be replaced. URGGGGGGG

  • J.R.

    Catherine,
    The education system defies logic, does it not?

  • J.R.

    This is OT,

    “Teacher verbally eviscerates students on blog”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/10/natalie-munroe-teacher-blog_n_821610.html

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:sALNOuknr30J:natalieshandbasket.blogspot.com/2010/01/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say.html+http://natalieshandbasket.blogspot.com/2010/01/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say.html&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

    If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen, because not just anyone should even be allowed to teach. Although some kids do need to be tossed out of school for being disruptive and so forth.

  • Future Doctor

    Oakland Teacher… my facts are straight regarding OPTP. I have reviewed and researched all of the special ed scripted curriculum and can say for a fact that the ‘rigor’ and content of this program is more than questionable. For example, the 3 hour class on behavior management for special education happens in the second part of the school year (after January) and consists of 24 pages of information and contains statistical and unfounded errors. Most special ed teachers outside OPTP program take 6-9 graduate credit hours in behavior management alone. This is the same as going to school once per week for three hours the first semester and 1.5 hours every week the second semester… by your record almost 75% of the time you spent getting instruction on all aspects of the OPTP credential program. Also, in looking at getting facts straight, OPTP classes are 3 hour seminars not 4. Further, I did qualify what I said “(sometimes) presented by teachers with less than a few years experience themselves” and this is absolutely true even if you, yourself were not directly instructed by these ‘instructors.’ Beyond that, I would argue the 6 years in the district still falls under the category of ‘few years.’ In other news, the OPTP program has a history with Alliant University. Do the research and you will find out that your 3-5k (depending on the year) credential is just what you paid for.

  • oaklandteacher

    Future doctor, I will just say that some are moot points that we disagree on which is fine. I would encourage you to share your skepticism about the content and rigor with OTF staff.

    I will just add that the proof and evidence is in the classroom where I am teaching and I am confident I am making a serious difference in the lives of the students that I teach—I am nowhere near mastery, but am grateful for the instruction that OPTP and Alliant provided/providing for me because each day I become a better teacher.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Future Doctor: you bring up some very interesting points regarding OPTP and the autism authorization. It almost sounds conspiratorial on the part of the district: an easy way to get rid of tenured, experienced, more expensive special ed teachers, while keeping all of the ones trained in their in house program. How could they not have let teachers know until February something that they were aware would be happening? I wonder how special ed parents would feel about that?

    2 points:

    1.There is no way any one year program run through OUSD is going to be equivalent to the more traditional two-year programs at the CSU’s, UC’s, HNU, JFK, etc

    2. Just to clarify, “Oakland Teacher” is NOT the same person as “Oaklandteacher”. I went to a traditional credential program, have a masters degree, and never taught as an intern anywhere. I did a full year of student teaching under a master teacher after I had finished by theory classes.

  • Future Doctor

    My apologies to Oakland Teacher, I did not realize the name difference.

    @ TeachForFreedom: You wrote..
    “The reason why these new teachers are being “hired” now (it’s not official until they get a position) is so they can be trained over the summer, and will eventually fill the natural attrition.”

    You are exactly right in the intent of this program… however, I feel there is the potential of a slippery situation as when you are accepted into OTF you are guaranteed/contracted a teaching spot as an intern… when you sign up for the program. I’m sure there is a formula somewhere in HR to figure all of this out, but it sounds tricky to me.

    TeachForFreedom also wrote: “The new OTF/TFA eventually end up filling positions that would otherwise go to long term subs.”

    Again I agree that is the intent, but the byproduct I would argue is something different altogether. I think it is highly possible that all we are doing is creating long-term subs through OTF and OPTP. When you look at the attrition rates of these teachers (Katy do you have an exact number?) they don’t tend to stick around for more than a year or two. Now I understand this is longer period of time than a sub position can cover, but we might be trading off the knowledge of our substitute population. I know that many subs that cover in my school have a very long history of working with students in a multitude of situations. I personally would rather have 2 subs cover for our children in one school year that have a great deal of knowledge over one OTF intern that just started in their educational journey.

    THIS IS NOT TO SAY that I believe OTF/OPTP interns are horrible people or are incapable of doing the job. I have seen new OTFers working hard, pulling through and making it work. I do, however, think that they are highly under prepared and systematically fed the idea that they are not.

    Further, this is not about OUSD, the adults, or the OTF or OPTP programs… This is about our kids, some of the most vulnerable and susceptible being our special need kids. We need to stop or fix programs like this right now. What happened to “I did a full year of student teaching under a master teacher” as Oakland Teacher said?

  • Gordon Danning

    Oakland Teacher (#8)

    Unlike classified staff, teachers cannot “bump” other teachers; if a school closes or reduces teaching staff, the displaced teachers can only be placed in a vacant position. They cannot bump another teacher.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Gordon:

    While it is true that bumping does not occur at the District level and an Oakland teacher does not have a right under the Contract to bump a filled position at another school, seniority comes into play in theory.

    Article 12.8.3.1 regarding consolidations has seniority being a “factor” when credentials and legal qualifications are equal, and at the secondary level “major/minor fields and specialized skills relating to the subject area shall be considered.”

    I say seniority comes into play in theory because teachers at a large school often do not have knowledge of the seniority date of other teachers at the school site. Seniority factor is seniority in the District and not seniority at a school site. Teachers do not have site seniority.

    A teacher applying for an open vacancy also will not know the seniority date of the person that is interviewed and/or hired for a vacancy.

    My understanding is that in some other school districts the teachers have up-to-date information as to the seniority date of their colleagues.

    Another aspect of consolidation is that besides seniority as a factor in selecting a teacher to be consolidated or be replaced at the site and then required to apply for an open position, is that a teacher serving in their probationary period, “except for emergency or extenduating circumstance”, cannot be consolidated more than once. In such a case seniority would not be a plus. And, seniority for permanent teachers provides no protection on the number of times a permanent teacher can be consolidated.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Gordon Danning

    Jim:

    You’re right, but the provisions you cite apply to consolidation. Eg, if Oakland High loses students, and must reduce lose one English teacher, the least senior English teacher is consolidated first.

    But, “bumping” refers to where a consolidated teacher goes. In some districts, if I am consolidated, I can take the position of a less senior teacher at another school. That is true of classified staff in Oakland, but not true of teachers. If I am consolidated, I can only be placed in an open position, such as replacing a teacher who has retired. I cannot force someone out of his or her position.

  • Katy Murphy

    Right, but if the district ends up having more teachers to consolidate than it has open spaces/new vacancies — and if it issues final layoff notices in May — then some teachers who are low on the seniority chain will lose their jobs. And some of them will be replaced by more senior teachers.

    So it’s not bumping, per se, but if I understand the process correctly, it sounds like indirect bumping.

  • Gordon Danning

    Katy:

    No, it isn’t bumping at all. It is layoffs. This is bumping:

    1. My school needs fewer social studies teachers. I am the least senior teahcer at my school, so I am consolidated.

    2. I go to Tech, and the least senior teacher there is bumped.

    3. She goes to Skyline, and the least senior teacher there is bumped.

    4. He goes to Fricke and the least senior teacher there is bumped.

    etc etc etc.

    In Oakland, we don’t do that. If I am consolidated, I go to an open position. I don’t bump anyone. Of course, the position might be open because the district knew I would be consolidated and laid someone off, and perhaps that is a bad thing, but it isn’t “bumping.” In a bumping system, every teacher in the District has to worry about where he or she will be the next year, which is an idiotic system.

  • Katy Murphy

    As I said: It isn’t bumping, and it doesn’t have the same ripple effect we see in classified positions. But if the district creates an open position for me by removing a less senior teacher from her position, then I am, essentially, bumping into that position.

    The difference is that it ends there, or at least it should.

  • Oakland Teacher, Too

    Katy,

    Do you have data on the number of non-tenured teachers and tenured teachers working in OUSD right now? Or by years in the district?

  • Katy Murphy

    Good question, Oakland Teacher, Too. I don’t have that figure at my fingertips — does anyone else? — but I’ll request it. I have a similar, more detailed, request that’s been pending since November.

  • another teacher

    Regarding hiring OTF and TFA- My school was required to fill our vacancies with OTF and TFA before we could hire out of district experienced teachers, or traditionally credentialed teachers (who have had student teaching, and coursework to become a teacher). Though OTF and TFA did not push out existing teachers in the district (that were laid off or consolidated), the programs did prevent us from hiring who we thought would be best for our students. So really, OTF and TFA were not just filling positions that would have gone to long term subs. They had dibs over any other new hire to the district. I think that’s unacceptable. We are systematically forced to embed turnover.

  • Oakland Teacher, Too

    Katy,

    This evening it was reported that the school districts of San Francisco and San Jose are able to determine the number of potential lay offs, as well as whether those employees affected are temporary or tenured teachers. Why haven’t we seen that kind of transparency from OUSD?

  • Elly

    Do you feel like a chip in one of those shill games? I do! I finally completed my credential through Chapman ($20k career change) after reading an ad that said “district internships available.” Oh really? Where? I don’t expect to find work as an English teacher any time soon.

    My fellow-students who did get jobs? Stressed out, insecure, uncomfortable, unhappy. That’s what being a teacher is.

    In the meantime, with a background in high-tech, I can bring new media to the classroom, and my two successful kids were always in the gifted program. I can teach children about their gifts.

    I never evaluated my children’s teachers by tenure, but by their moral fiber. Every once in a while,there was a “not-so-great” teacher. But, you know what? That’s life! Why does every teacher have to be “excellent?” Are all politicians, lawyers, doctors, and others “excellent?”

    All of the talk about reorganization and all of the in-fighting is a game of denial. Everything that is done that does not focus on developing healthy, functioning students is a waste, and perpetuates more fighting. Look at the society our children are entering today. It’s too bad that this is what our educational system has come to.

  • Livegreen

    Even with all the work to do around Budget Cuts, Sites vs. Central, etc. Betty Olsen Jones takes up Gang Injunctions which don’t even concern students. There are 0 students named, yet Ms. Jones wants to be involved because there are ex-students named.

    So how long does Ms. Jones believe it’s relevant for the OEA to remain politically involved? Is the OEA expanding it’s political advocacy and responsibility to all areas where ex-students might continue?

    I would think the OEA has enough work to do advocating for their teachers and the budget (especially on the Site vs. Central issue, which is going to be a real battle). Unless, of course, Ms. Jones is heavily involved in politics in general or looking at running for higher office. Is the OEA already formally supporting those aspirations?

  • J.R.

    Refusing to spend money we do not have, and not wanting to increase the deficit is also “part of life”. Everyone cannot be well paid, which is what is wrong with the public sector(there are no market forces to identify and stabilize wages and benefits). The public sector system is all predicated on how much money we can squeeze out of the taxpayers(including being strong-armed into paying for the unions as well). The majority of public sector jobs are “make work”, police,fire,teachers are probably the only ones that could be classified as crucial and absolutely necessary. Well, there is always the private sector where you can be unemployed at any moment and have no recourse at all. That’s life!

  • Harold

    Wall Street is laughing at all the crabs fighting to stay relevant, hanging on the barrel of life… There is money. The problem is: “we” are too scared to fight for the interests of public school students.

    Class war has been declared by the uber-rich. Their greatest tool is the middle-class cannibalizing itself, fighting over the left-overs!

  • J.R.

    “There is money. The problem is: “we” are too scared to fight for the interests of public school students”.

    Question, if it’s for the interest of the students, why does so little money go directly toward what students need and use in the classroom? Why over the last few decades parents not only pay taxes but have also been given “classroom supply lists” to buy classroom essentials? Do you want to answer that or shall I? Where is that $9K per child(200K+ per classroom)going? This has been going on for decades(mediocre academic achievement and high costs).This country and states pay among the highest costs for education, but we are not getting anywhere near our moneys worth and haven’t been for over three decades.

  • Harold

    @J.R. – Didn’t Troy Flint say he would post those numbers for us?

    Not to sound like Nexset … but I don’t hear the parents of affluent cities “complaining” about the resources available for public education. I have a friend who works in Orinda, he has no complaints and has all the resources he needs. He doesn’t ask parents for anything, because the district provides all the necessary tools to teach!

  • Jim Mordecai

    Livegreen:

    Betty Olson Jones is not looking for more work. But, she is fulfilling her responsibility to represent her members when the union Representative Council votes a position on an issue. Gang injunction opponents came to Representative Council and the majority voted to support the argument that the issue is a civil rights issue and targeting “gang members” is part of a slippery slope that reduces the rights of all in our society and puts too much trust in the government not to abuse its power to cast too wide a net in profiling and defining “gang members. Viewed as a civil rights issue, supporters of distrust of government on this issue are taking a position of supporting limited government that would not be a position unfamiliar to members of the Tea Party.

    The Representative Council meets Monday, March 7th and has yet another controversy to vote up or down: opposition to Governor Brown’s initiative to put on the ballot extension of current taxes that majority of the union Executive Board has voted a policy position that the extension must be opposed because it is an extension of regressive taxes. The Representative Council can ratify the union’s Executive Board position, modify or change the position; or, even not ratify the position and leave the controversy alone with the OEA having no position on the issue of Gang Injunction.

    The point being that there is a democratic process within the union for establishing the OEA’s positions on issues and those positions are not merely the whim of the President of the Oakland Education Association Betty Olson-Jones but emerge from the OEA’s representative governing bodies establishing policy according to the unions democratic rules and processes. The highest representative body is the OEA Representative Council that meets once a month. And, that body can refer an issue to the OEA membership to vote up or down under the Union’s Bylaws.

    Jim Mordecai
    Substitute Teacher
    Member of OEA
    Chair of the OEA Bylaw Committee

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    You are forgetting something important, the parents pay higher taxes,are more involved, and hold their teachers and children to a higher standard. Every good district functions like this. OUSD spreads it’s money too thin and has never been a good steward of the peoples money(too many small schools= more admin,more teachers)less money to go around. Everyone would like to be highly paid, but there is only so much money to give.

    http://www.schoolfinancecenter.org/data.php?action=summary&cds=01612590000000&type=roi&year=2008

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/oakland-unified-has-too-many-schools/Content?oid=1725235

  • livegreen

    Jim, Thanks for the clarification that it is the OEA as a body that is officially entering into Law Enforcement issues, and not just Ms. Jones. I heard her on KQED voicing her opposition, and referring to her ex-students.

    1. So I pose the same questions to the OEA asked above, rephrased where appropriate (some already asked but you did not answer):

    With all the work to do around Budget Cuts, Sites vs. Central, etc. the OEA takes up Gang Injunctions which don’t even concern students. There are 0 students named, yet the OEA & Ms. Jones wants to be involved because there are ex-students named.

    So how long does Ms. Jones believe it’s relevant for the OEA to remain politically involved? Is the OEA expanding it’s political advocacy and responsibility to all areas where ex-students might continue?

    I would think the OEA has enough work to do advocating for their teachers and the budget (especially on the Site vs. Central issue, which is going to be a real battle).

    2. Please clarify: Specifically how is the Anti-Gang Injunction proposed by Chief Batts and the City Attorney Russo a) Civil Rights issues, b) “part of a slippery slope that reduces the rights of all in our society”?

    Are you denying the Nortenos are involved in criminal enterprise? Have you come out with similar opinions with regards to the Italian Mafia, or any of the Columbian or Mexican Drug Cartels?

  • Nextset

    Jim Mordecai:

    The OEA opposes the gang injunctions because they are rad-libs. They do not support either public safety or law enforcement agendas and are mainly interested in anarchy – or letting everybody do whatever they feel like doing regardless of the harm or threat posed to society.

    I can respect that. I have my issues and policy positions also. OEA is using their association to fight for it’s policy (political beliefs). Workers of the world unite.

    What they have to understand is that the more they come out with what they believe in the more some people (like me) might conclude they are not fit to be teaching public school children. Once that is clear the remedy is to de-fund the public schools and scatter the public school children to Charter Schools.

    And that is exactly what’s on the horizon. And this kind of activity is going to grease the skids. In the current thread about Oakland Teacher’s View I commented on the inappropriateness of a teacher or his school teaching anti-law enforcement and anti-authoritarian dogma (ie the children’s “rights” rather than their responsibilities to observe and obey the law) If the public school’s persist in identifying themselves with the anti-establishment they will lose more than just the White kids’ enrollments.

    Parents – Families – want to send their children to schools where the child will have a reasonable expectation of entry into society and an occupation, not a likelihood of jail unemployment and premature death. It is about to get very tough in the USA, historically tough. Some people will have a decent life and a lot more are going to do badly. Many people are going to start paying attention to the placement of the lifeboats where they didn’t bother so much previously.

    If these rotten public schools and their unions continue to indulge themselves in counter-culture too openly they will see devastating losses in both enrollment and funding. At some point even the black folks can vote with their feet.

    So let the OEA do what it wants, it’s getting very cold in society now.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Netset:

    The OEA is like any democrat/representative organization is constantly making policy and such work is a work in progress and a work never finished.

    If the leadership is too radical for its membership, then its membership will replace that leadership no matter if that radicalism is a left, right or center radicalism. The problem of a democratic leadership is to lead without getting too far away from its base or that leadership will soon be a part of the membership and not the leadership.

    Therefore, if the union’s democratic institution is working properly the union membership will do what it wants.

    There are many in OEA that agree with your view that the OEA is self-destructive by endorsing policies that are radical and not main stream. They would prefer that politics be kept away from union business. This issue surfaces constantly at local, state, and national union organizations. The counter argument is that when politics stays out the classroom and teachers’ working conditions, the union will get out of politics.

    I agree with the latter view up to a point. However, I think it is unwise for national teachers’ unions to endorse a presidential candidate as it means Republicans have to attack teacher unions to try and weaken Democratic Party support.

    Another problem with self-governance by representation is that the membership may not make asserting themselves a priority and allow leadership to make policy in their name.

    But, by not asserting themselves membership provides a passive endorsement of whatever representative memberships does in its name.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Livegreen:

    I thought I made clear that the OEA was involved in a democratic process wherein its Representative Council makes policy and it is the responsibility of its leadership to advocate what the majority decides is policy.

    I am not President of OEA and not therefore not obligated to provide my view of a range of issues. My personal views are moot.

    But, if OEA Representative Council comes up with a position on, say the Mafia, whomever is OEA President is suppose to articulate that position to the public and may draw on personal experiences and viewpoints if that aligns with the policy that was arrived at in our union democratic process. Even if a President does not agree with a policy, they are obligated to articulate the policy the majority of Representative Council passes.

    A case in point was a previous President of OEA that endorsed a measure as a person and not as President of OEA. She was hit with a lot of criticism because the public has a hard time separating an organization’s identified leader from the spoke person’s personal views.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Annoyed Taxpayer

    Bill Gates, the college drop-out, was right eliminating your newest teachers and retaining based on seniority is stupid. It does more harm than good and the most vulnerable suffer the most. It is time to end LIFO. If we must lay-off staff, then lay-off the lowest performers.

    Does the OEA even know that the gang injunction is not a blanket gang injunction. It is a restraining order against a handful of named individual, all of whom have reached the age of majority and unfortunately have a long and storied criminal past as adults. Does the OEA really want this individuals on the streets glorifying gang life to young boys? This restraining order is no different than that issued to an abusive spouse. So unless, the OEA wants to defend spouse abusers it seems like it is OEA that is on the slippery slope.

    On the plus side, OEA’s stances make it clear to this voting taxpayer that they do not have the best interest of Oakland students. Thus, absent reform, I will be voting no on any ballot initiative to increase teacher pay and will urge others to do the same.

  • Ms. McLaughlin

    Wouldn’t we expect that most OTF recruits wind up in the charter schools? I’m asking because OTF is managed by the New Teachers Project, which was founded by our friend Michelle Rhee.

    If you go to the “Join Our Staff” page of the New Teachers’ Project website and search for all California jobs, you’ll find that they have four current openings, all with the Oakland Teaching Fellows.

    http://tbe.taleo.net/NA5/ats/careers/jobSearch.jsp?org=THENEWTEACHERPROJECT&cws=1

    Some interesting excerpts:

    The Program
    TNTP works in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to run the Oakland Teaching Fellows program.

    We are currently seeking a Site Manager for our Oakland Teaching Fellows program in Oakland, California. The Site Manager will be a TNTP employee based at the Oakland Teaching Fellows office located at the Oakland Unified School District. This position is available immediately.

    The Site Manager will work on site in the Oakland Unified School District building and is responsible for ensuring the successful execution of the program. Specifically, the Site Manager will be responsible for the following:

    • Designing and implementing recruitment strategies that attract high-quality alternate-route teachers from diverse backgrounds to apply to teach in district schools
    • Managing a rigorous selection process to ensure that individuals accepted into the program meet our high standards
    • Designing and implementing effective strategies to match these individuals with schools in the district where they will fill high-need vacancies

    The Oakland Teaching Fellows Program (OTF) is currently seeking a strong instructional leader to serve as the Deputy Institute Director on the 2011 OTF Training Institute team.

    The Deputy Institute Director (DID) works in direct partnership with the Institute Director (ID) to prepare for and run the six-week summer Training Institute for approximately 60-80 Oakland Teaching Fellows. The DID is responsible for ensuring the overall success of Institute and works to establish the highest quality training possible, in order to maximize Fellows’ ability to be effective first-year teachers.

  • livegreen

    Jim, I understand your explanation, and the Demcratic process. I’m just trying to get answers about why the OEA and it’s leader is putting out PR and media interviews on topics that a) It has no expertise in; b) Don’t concern education in the least; and c) The OEA’s explanations so far have little or nothing to do with the issues at hand.

    The explanation that it’s a democratic process explains process. It does not explain policy.

    BTW, when will the OEA be releasing it’s opinions on open spaces (especially regarding the Oakland zoo), green jobs, and the consolidation of OPD Beats?

    In related news the OPOA will soon announce it’s opinion on Charter Schools…